Another Batman Arkham volume. So soon after the Poison Ivy one, too. Like the other volumes in this series, it collects stories about one particular Batman villain. I use villain loosely here, because I don't consider Man-Bat a real villain. He started off as a good guy and has slowly, over time, lost more and more of his sanity and humanity and has become closer to an adversary (not villain) to Batman.
This is one of the best volumes of the Batman Arkham run, if you ask me. Maybe it's because there are fewer Man-Bat stories to choose from. Maybe it's because I fucking love Man-Bat. Maybe both. But the stories in this book at pretty great. Starting with his debut (drawn by Neal Adams!!), continuing on to his extremely short lived regular series (two whole issues), adding in his mini-series (which ran longer than his regular series!) and other appearances. This was a lot of fun for me to read and I powered through the entire thing in one sitting. My attention span isn't that big, so that's a real statement for me to make.
My one big gripe with this book is the story from Secret Origins written by Jan Strnad. In it, Man-Bat's story is retold pretty much as it happened, but Strnad added in a piece to tie Man-Bat's backstory in to Batman's backstory that I feel is completely unnecessary. Suddenly Bruce Wayne and Kirk Langstrom had met as children and Bruce remembers him to this day. Stupid and unnecessary. Distracting.
I'm not too keen on the New 52 version. More specifically the fact that Francine Langstrom is a villain from the get-go. Again, stupid. He had a perfectly good backstory that shouldn't have been fucked up by the New 52, but tptb let it happen anyway.
All in all, this is a keeper.
Batman Arkham: Man-Bat
Writer: Frank Robbins, Gerry Conway, Martin Pasko, Jan Strnad, Chuck Dixon, Dan DiDio, Frank Tieri
Artist: Neal Adams, Steve Ditko, Pablo Marcos, Kevin Nowlan, Flint Henry, Quique Alcatena, J.G. Jones, Scot Eaton, Dick Giordano, Al Milgrom, Ricardo Villamonte, Eduardo Barreto, Nathan Fairbairn